By JOANNE FOX
DES MOINES – Pro-life supporters are praising the Iowa House and Senate on passing legislation that banned almost all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
By a vote of 55-41, the ban passed the House of Representatives on April 5. By a vote of 30-20, the senate passed the legislation on April 18. The bill now goes to Gov. Terry Branstad, who is expected to sign it.
Specifically, Senate File 471 (SF 471) prohibits abortions at 20 weeks post-fertilization. It goes on to say that before an abortion can be performed, the list of requirements is as follows: an ultrasound, description of the child, option to hear the heartbeat, information on the abortion and options for adoption, information on the child’s development and risk factors related to an abortion. However, this is not required in cases of medical emergency.
The legislation also enacted a 72-hour waiting period before an abortion could be performed.
“This waiting period may save a few lives,” said Sen. Mark Costello, R-Imogene, the bill’s floor manager in the Senate, who advocated his colleagues to vote in favor of the legislation.
Rep. Shannon Lundgren, R-Peosta, floor-managed the bill in the house, and called it an “honor” to be part of the lawmaking that saves the lives of unborn babies.
“This bill saves babies lives while protecting the life and health of the mother,” she said. “I want to thank everyone for their messages of support, prayers and kind words while we passed the most historic piece of pro-life legislation in Iowa’s history.”
Iowa Right to Life Executive Director Jenifer Bowen said the vote, after originally receiving bi-partisan support in the Senate, passed along party lines.
“Over the previous two days, debate raged on this bill in the House,” she reported. “Republicans stood strong against immense pressure and, frankly, countless personal attacks and insults.”
Tom Chapman, executive director of the Iowa Catholic Conference, pointed out one purpose of SF 471 is to update the Iowa Code to reflect the advances made in saving the lives of infants.
“Unborn children at 20 weeks post-fertilization – once considered too young to survive – are now doing so at an increasing rate,” he said.
Chapman expressed concern that Iowa might become a destination for late-term abortion providers without this legislation.
“This session presents a rare opportunity to make changes to abortion law in Iowa,” he said. “SF 471 will represent a meaningful gain for women and children.”
Bottom of FormBishop Walker Nickless of Sioux City called the legislation a “positive step” in the ongoing battle against abortion.
“This is certainly cause for joy in the defense of human life in the womb,” he said. “However, we must continue to pray that the scourge of abortion is ultimately lifted from our nation.”
The bishop cautioned that despite this victory, abortion – even in the early stages of a pregnancy – remains “the greatest moral evil of our day.”
“Without our pro-life witness and efforts, and most especially, our constant, devout prayers, we cannot expect to change the hearts of those who support abortion,” he said. “None of us can simply stand silently on this issue. We must continue to speak out in defense of the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death.”